A short history of veterinary education in Australia: the 120-year transition from education for a trade to education for a profession HISTORY


IW Caple

World Veterinary Year in 2011 celebrates the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the first modern veterinary school at Lyon in France. To put veterinary education in Australia in its historical context, the veterinary school at Lyon was established nine years before the British had discovered the east coast of Australia in 1770, and 27 years before a shipment of convicts transported from overcrowded gaols in England had arrived in Sydney in 1788. This paper discusses the development of veterinary education in Australia from that time to the present day. Keywords Australia; education; history; Kendall, William Tyson; Mitchell, Graham; veterinarians Abbreviations AVBC, Australasian Veterinary Board’s Council; AVSAC, Australian Veterinary School’s Accreditation Committee; MVC, Melbourne Veterinary College; RCVS, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Aust Vet J 2011;89:282–288

doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.2011.00810.x


011 marks the 120th anniversary of the first class of veterinarians educated in Australia to complete a four-year course at the Melbourne Veterinary College (MVC), pass examinations set by the Veterinary Surgeons Board and be registered under veterinary legislation in 1891.1 World Veterinary Year in 2011 celebrates the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the first modern veterinary school at Lyon in France in 1761.2 To put veterinary education in Australia in its historical context, the veterinary school at Lyon was established nine years before the British had discovered the east coast of Australia in 1770, and 27 years before a shipment of convicts transported from overcrowded gaols in England had arrived in Sydney in 1788. The knowledge to manage the husbandry and health of the domesticated animals in the colony arrived with the first shipment of convicts and maritime officers.3 This was 100 years before the MVC commenced teaching in January 1888 after the Veterinary Surgeons Act of Victoria was passed in December 1887. The favourable climate and freedom from infectious diseases enabled the introduced animal populations to multiply with little input from qualified veterinarians for the first 100 years of European settlement in Australia.



Young British graduates establish veterinary practice in Australia In Britain, it took 50 years after foundation of the Royal Veterinary College in London in 1791 before the Royal Charter granted in 1844 enabled the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to be formed. The RCVS empowered veterinary practice to become a profession distinguished by the title ‘veterinary surgeon’. The first Acts passed by State Governments in Australia were veterinary surgeons Acts (Table 1). Those persons with recognised qualifications were registered as veterinary surgeons, irrespective of what role they played in the profession. Australia was fortunate that the economic and social conditions in Britain in the 19th century were such that a few young qualified veterinarians were encouraged to migrate to Australia where they anticipated better opportunities. The person responsible for moves to establish veterinary education in Australia was Graham Mitchell FRCVS (1831c.–1888), who arrived in Melbourne in 1855 and spent all but three years of his 33-year career in Australia.4 Graham Mitchell as role model for the profession Graham Mitchell established the model followed by Australian veterinarians by upgrading his qualifications as required, conducting research to improve his knowledge, and writing and contributing to community organisations. Mitchell had graduated with the Certificate of the Highland and Agriculture Society in April 1854 for his veterinary training at the Edinburgh Veterinary College under its founder, Professor William Dick, and held several appointments while conducting private veterinary practice, one of the first being pound keeper at Kalkallo from 1858.4 He spent approximately three years in India (1869–1871) where he sat the entrance examination for the RCVS. RCVS sets examinations to recognise veterinary qualifications

Until 1901, Australia was administered as separate Colonies reporting to the British Parliament. Since Federation, many laws such as the veterinary surgeons Acts are administered on a State and Territory basis. The history of the passing of veterinary legislation in Australia and the establishment of veterinary schools in five mainland States is summarised in Table 1. It took over 50 years for veterinary legislation to be enacted in all States.

In 1870, the RCVS arranged a series of qualifying examinations to enable Highland and Agricultural Society Certificate holders to gain admission to the College. A Special Meeting of the Board of Examiners held in London on 24 April 1871 recorded that Mitchell passed the qualifying examination and was granted the MRCVS diploma. In 1877 the Royal College awarded Graham Mitchell one of its Primary Fellowships for his contributions to original research. This recognition was not unexpected, because on 28 October 1875, Professor W Williams, the Principal of the Edinburgh Veterinary College, named Graham Mitchell as one of eight outstanding former graduates now working overseas.4

Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; icaple3@ bigpond.com

After returning from India, Mitchell continued his private practice in Melbourne. He was appointed Honorary Veterinary Surgeon to the

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© 2011 The Author Australian Veterinary Journal © 2011 Australian Veterinary Association

HISTORY Table 1. History of establishment of veterinary legislation and veterinary schools, according to Statea in Australia, and inaugural Deans

Historical event

Victoria 1887 1888–1908

Veterinary Surgeons Act Melbourne Veterinary College

Inaugural Dean HISTORY

Australian State

Principal, WT Kendall MRCVS, DVSc, Hon. Assoc. RCVS 1909– 1909–1928 1963– New South Wales 1923 1910– 1920– 2005– Queensland 1936 1936– 1969 1969–1996 2006 Western Australia 1911 1975

South Australia 1935 2008

University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science University of Melbourne Veterinary School University of Melbourne School of Veterinary Science

Veterinary Surgeons Act University of Sydney Department of Veterinary Science University of Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science Charles Sturt University School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences Veterinary Surgeons Act University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science James Cook University School of Tropical Veterinary Science School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Veterinary Surgeons Act Murdoch University School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Veterinary Surgeons Act University of Adelaide, School of Animal and Veterinary Science,

Professor and Dean, Professor JA Gilruth MRCVS, FRSE, DVSc Professor and Dean, Professor DC Blood DVSc, Hon. Assoc. RCVS

Professor JD Stewart BVSc, FRCVS, Hon. Assoc. RCVS Dean, Professor JD Stewart BVSc, FRCVS, Hon. Assoc. RCVS Professor and Head of School, Professor KA Abbott BVSc (Melb), MVS, PhD, FACVSc

Professor and Dean, Professor HR Seddon DVSc Professor and Head, Professor RSF Campbell, DSc (hc), DVMS (hc), PhD, MRCVS, FRC Path, FACVSc, FRSE Professor and Dean of School, Professor LA Fitzpatrick BVSc (Qld), PhD, MACVSc, GCertEd

Professor and Dean, Professor RH Dunlop CertAgr (Cirencester), DVM (Guelph), PhD, MRCVS, MACVSc, DACVPT

Professor and Head of School, Professor Gail Anderson BVSc (Melb), MSc, PhD, MACVSc, DipACVS

a The State of Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory do not have centres of veterinary learning. The Veterinary Act was passed in Tasmania in 1918. Veterinary Surgeons Acts were passed in the Australian Capital Territory in 1965 and the Northern Territory in 1980.

Victorian Society for the Protection of Animals when the society was first formed in 1871 and Honorary Veterinary Surgeon to the National Agricultural Society, a position he held until his death in 1888. In 1872, Mitchell diagnosed foot and mouth disease in cattle and pigs on a farm at Werribee, not far from the current location of the University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinical Centre. Mitchell’s efforts to establish a veterinary school (1873–1875), with the support of the National Agricultural Society and a number of prominent citizens to obtain financial assistance from the Government of Victoria, were unsuccessful. He reported these efforts in an article published in the Veterinary Journal (1877;4:40). The article happened to be read by William Tyson Kendall, then in practice at Ambleside in the Lakes District in England, who casually remarked to his wife Elizabeth, ‘What about going to Melbourne to help Graham Mitchell to establish a College?’5 © 2011 The Author Australian Veterinary Journal © 2011 Australian Veterinary Association

William Tyson Kendall William Tyson Kendall (1851–1936), the third son of a doctor, studied at the Royal Veterinary College London and qualified MRCVS in 1873. His eldest brother Joseph, by 10 years, had qualified from the Edinburgh Veterinary College. Kendall commenced private practice in the Lakes District, but when his professional work did not provide enough income he decided in late 1879 to try his luck in New Zealand. The SS Somersetshire on which he sailed from Plymouth arrived in Melbourne on 16 February 1880, six days after his 29th birthday.While waiting for four days before boarding another ship to New Zealand, Kendall decided to call on the four qualified veterinarians in Melbourne, one of whom was Graham Mitchell, some 20 years older and whose writings he had read. No portrait or verbal description of Mitchell has been located, although an article in the Journal of Pharmacy of

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HISTORY 1888 describes Mitchell as being kind-hearted and genial.4 Whatever the nature of the interactions between Mitchell and Kendall when they first met, Kendall was persuaded that his opportunities in Melbourne would be much better than in New Zealand. From their first meeting in February, Mitchell and Kendall established a professional relationship, consulting each other about cases and referring clients. By November, and before Ned Kelly was hung at the Old Melbourne Gaol on 11 November 1880, they had formed the Australasian Veterinary Medical Association,6 largely by correspondence with known qualified veterinarians in Australia and New Zealand. In 1881, Mitchell who had been appointed as Honorary Veterinary Surgeon to the Zoological Society in 1875 resigned from this position and Kendall was appointed. The British Veterinary Surgeons Act of 1881 The passing of this Act gave fresh impetus for the moves by Mitchell with Kendall’s youthful support to lobby for veterinary legislation in Victoria. The Veterinary Surgeons Act of Victoria was passed in December 1887 (Table 1). The Act stipulated the course had to be given over four years, the same length as in the Dental Act of Victoria passed at the same time. The Act required examinations, conducted by examiners appointed by the Board, to be passed in 12 subjects: Materia Medica, Pharmacy, Medical Botany, Practical Chemistry, Toxicology, Anatomy of the Horse and other Domesticated Animals, Physiology and Histology, Morbid Anatomy, Pathology and Pathological Toxicology, Diseases of the Horse and other Domesticated Animals, Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Therapeutics. This listing of prescribed subjects remained in subsequent veterinary surgeons Acts in Victoria for 70 years until 1958. The Melbourne Veterinary College Kendall decided to establish a Veterinary College in association with his practice in Brunswick St Fitzroy after the passing of the Veterinary Surgeons Act. In his own words, ‘. . . receiving no help from the Government in regard to providing a suitable site or funds to erect the necessary buildings, as well a lack of interest in the matters displayed by my colleagues, I determined to try what I could do single-handed.’7 Teaching commenced in January 1888. The MVC was recognised by the Veterinary Surgeons Board of Victoria in March 1890. In December 1891, the first four students to complete four years of the course and pass the final examination were awarded the Graduate of the Melbourne Veterinary College (GMVC) diploma and registered after paying the prescribed fee. Qualifications for registration Registration has provided the legal basis for regulation of the veterinary profession and for setting the standards of veterinary education to enable graduates gain entry. The initial legislation passed in a jurisdiction usually allowed for the registration of non-qualified persons who were practicing as veterinarians for seven years previously. Nonqualified registered veterinarians practiced in Australia from 1888 in Victoria to the late 1970s in Queensland. Non-qualified registered veterinary surgeons served as members of the Veterinary Board of Victoria for three decades from 1891 to 1921. The last non-veterinary qualified person on a veterinary register died in Queensland in 2010.8 The recognised qualifications for registration in Australia since 1888 have included ‘diplomas’ such as MRCVS and GMVC. The License in


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Veterinary Science (LVSc) was for persons who had not matriculated but had completed a four-year university course, with the first year of a lower standard than those who completed a bachelor degree. Veterinary education in Australia has had a history since 1909 of developing programs for the upgrading of qualifications as the profession has developed and diversified. GMVC graduates (1891–1909) and LVSc graduates from the University of Melbourne (1909–1925) were able to upgrade their qualifications through postgraduate training and passing examinations.7 The degree of Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) was open to matriculated students and from 1909 initially required four and a half years of study at Melbourne, and four years at Sydney.9 In 1937 the BVSc course at Sydney was increased from four to five years to include more teaching on animal husbandry.9 The University of Queensland’s BVSc course was given over five years from 1936 and included special emphasis on the application of animal husbandry and preventive medicine.10 Veterinarians with ‘doctorates’ such as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from recognised schools have been registered. The first Australian DVM degrees will be registered in the second decade of the 21st century (Table 2). Registered veterinarians are expected to upgrade their knowledge and skills by participating in continuing education during their careers.11 Veterinary education in Australia Foundation William Tyson Kendall is acknowledged as the founder of veterinary education and the profession in Australia, following the example of Bourgelat in France in 1761 and St Bel in England in 1791. Four of Kendall’s five sons were educated as veterinarians.12 The Kendall veterinarians had a 64-year relationship with Melbourne Zoo, first with William from 1881 and later the youngest of his five sons, Hector, born in 1885. Hector Kendall was Director of the Zoological Gardens from 1937 to 1945. The Kendall family also contributed 54 years of service to the Veterinary Board of Victoria, with Kendall’s eldest son, Ernest, as well as Hector, serving after their father had retired from the Board in 1924. WT Kendall’s contribution to veterinary education in Victoria extended over three decades; as Principal of the MVC (1888– 1908), then as Lecturer in Medicine (1909–1918) when the Faculty of Veterinary Science established at the University of Melbourne commenced teaching in Parkville. Benchmarking veterinary education 1909–1910 After joining the University of Melbourne, Kendall spent a year from November 1909 to November 1910 touring Europe studying developments in agriculture and the facilities at veterinary schools at Alfort in France, Brussels in Belgium, Copenhagen in Denmark, and in Holland and Britain. Kendall’s report of his study tour could be considered as the first international benchmarking study in veterinary education undertaken by an Australian academic veterinarian. He observed the sophisticated treatments provided for dogs at Berlin in Germany where he noted a high proportion of the students were associated with the military. He considered the quality of horses in Britain had deteriorated from what he had remembered 30 years previously. He © 2011 The Author Australian Veterinary Journal © 2011 Australian Veterinary Association

HISTORY Table 2. Distribution, year of establishment, course length and website addressesa of Australia’s seven veterinary schools in 2011




James Cook University BVSc course established BVSc graduates Website: http://www.jcu.edu.au/vbms/ University of Queensland BVSc course established BVSc graduates Website: http://www.uq.edu.au/vetschool/ University of Sydney BVSc course established BVSc graduates Website: http://www.vetsci.usyd.edu.au/ Charles Sturt University BVSc course established BVSc graduates Website: http://www.csu.edu.au/faculty/science/savs/vet/ Melbourne Veterinary College GMVCb University of Melbourne BVSc course established BVSc graduates DVM graduates Website: http://www.vet.unimelb.edu.au/ University of Adelaide Course established DVM graduates Website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/vetsci/ Murdoch University BVMS course established BVMS graduates Website: http://www.vetbiomed.murdoch.edu.au/

1970 2006 2010–present


1909 1936 1940–present


1850 1910 1913–present


1989 2005 2010–present


New South Wales


South Australia

Western Australia

Course length in 2011 (years)

1888 1891–1909 1853 1909 1910–1928, 1967–present 2014


Australian State


1874 2008 2013


1974 1975 1979–present



Website addresses as accessed on 28 October 2010. In December 1891, the Veterinary Board of Victoria registered graduates from the Melbourne Veterinary College (GMVC), Australia’s first legally accredited institution of veterinary training. In 1909, students at the Melbourne Veterinary College transferred to the University of Melbourne.


described the Government veterinary college at Alfort, Paris, as a model and up-to-date institution with 300 students. However, Kendall concluded the method of handling horses and preparing them for operations at Alfort in 1910 was clumsy compared with Australian methods, the work being slow and involving some unnecessary suffering.13 Humane treatment of horses at veterinary schools The procedures used to prepare horses for surgery at the Cuming Operating Theatre at the new University of Melbourne Veterinary School at Parkville were demonstrated on official occasions, a notable one being on 3 April 1913 when the Dean, Professor HA Woodruff, and the Faculty of Veterinary Science gave a reception for Dr John © 2011 The Author Australian Veterinary Journal © 2011 Australian Veterinary Association

Anderson Gilruth, then Administrator of The Northern Territory.14 Gilruth had been the inaugural Director of the Veterinary Institute and Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the University from 1909 to February 1912 when he resigned from the University to accept the appointment in the Northern Territory. He planned and led the development of the facilities at the new University Veterinary School, the design of the curriculum and the transition of the students and course from the MVC. The responsibility for examinations was transferred from the Veterinary Board to the University in 1909. A newspaper report of the reception14 included a paragraph to describe how a group of students added in their own way to the welcome to their old chief by ‘. . . a burst of singing from lusty throats. Several verses of a rousing chorus were rendered:

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We’re veterinary students all. Dear Gilruth was our pater, We’ve come in here to wish good cheer, Welcome, Administrator.’ University veterinary education in Australia based on research Gilruth was instrumental in fostering original research into several diseases of animals at the University of Melbourne Veterinary School and the Veterinary Research Institute. He provided research opportunities for graduates of the Melbourne School for more than 20 years, and often attended student dinners at Parkville. Ian Clunies Ross (1899–1959), second editor of the Australian Veterinary Journal (1928–1937), Dean of the University of Sydney Veterinary School (1940–1946) and later Chairman of CSIRO (1949–1959), considered Gilruth to be his mentor. Credit must be given to Gilruth for insisting on knowledge derived from research as the basis for undergraduate teaching at Australian veterinary schools. Effect of wars and depressed economic conditions on veterinary education The Boer War broke out in 1899 and during the hostilities 25 Australian veterinarians volunteered for service; 16 of the volunteers were graduates of the MVC. This was a learning experience for Australian veterinarians that would place them in a better position after the outbreak of World War I in 1914. During the Boer War the deployment and control of Australian troops were handed over entirely to British authority. The organisation of the British veterinary service proved woefully inadequate and this, combined with a low standard of horsemastership in the British forces, led to enormous animal wastage later declared ‘a deliberate sacrifice of animal life and of public money’.15 Many of the early Australian veterinary graduates combined military and veterinary careers. After the outbreak of WWI on 4 August 1914, the first contingent of the Australian Imperial Force left Australia on 1 November 1914 and consisted of approximately 20,000 men and 7843 horses. There were 19 veterinary officers in this contingent and they were the first of about 125 Australian veterinarians who served during the war.16,17 WWI disrupted teaching and research at the Melbourne and Sydney Veterinary Schools. The Sydney Veterinary School’s ‘effective life really commenced after 1917, for in 1914 the war broke out and caused a serious stasis. The call for service emptied the benches of students, and teaching became practically suspended as members of staff entered upon military duties. Even after the war terminated recovery was slow . . .’ .9 The Melbourne BVSc course closed in 1928 because of a lack of students. WWII constrained teaching at Sydney, but fortunately for the Australian veterinary profession the School continued undergraduate teaching. The BVSc course established at the University of Queensland in 1936 was suspended at the end of 1942. It re-opened in 1946, but only the first three years were provided until 1950.10 In the interim, students completed the two final years at the Sydney Veterinary School until staff and facilities were available to teach the full course. Accreditation of courses Recognition of Australian veterinary qualifications by the RCVS commenced with applications by Kendall for recognition of the GMVC


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first awarded in 1891. He was unsuccessful. In 1948, the RCVS established a Colonial List as the means for recognition of the BVSc degrees at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney,18 and later at Queensland. The re-established BVSc course at the University of Melbourne in 1965 continued to be recognised after the RCVS President had viewed the plans for the facilities and the curriculum during a visit to Melbourne. Murdoch University requested a visitation by the RCVS to gain recognition of its Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery degree first awarded in 1979. In 1984, the RCVS advised the Australian Veterinary Association that unless a system of mutual recognition was put in place within five years, the RCVS would withdraw its recognition of the BVSc degrees from Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland.19 An Australian Veterinary School’s Accreditation Committee (AVSAC) was formed.Visitations, using a protocol similar to but not identical to that used by the RCVS, were made to all four Australian veterinary schools in 1988. A report of this first visitation was sent to the veterinary boards in each state and to the RCVS in 1989.19 At subsequent AVSAC visitations, made at intervals of 6 years, veterinary schools were expected to have responded to the recommendations made after the previous visitation. The need to devolve the National Veterinary Examination from the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition in the Australian Government to a recognised veterinary organisation during the 1990s led to the establishment of the Australasian Veterinary Board’s Council (AVBC) in 1999.20 This Council included a representative of each State and Territory Veterinary Board; the Veterinary Council of New Zealand, and the professional associations in Australia and New Zealand. The AVBC was required to administer the examination for overseas qualified veterinarians seeking to gain registration in Australia. The AVBC also took on the responsibility for a renamed AVSAC, the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee, and the Committee for the Recognition of Veterinary Specialists. The minimum length of veterinary science courses offered that enable graduates to be registered under State legislation in Australia is five years of university education, but the minimum course length ranges up to six years at some schools (Table 2). All schools that produced graduates in 2010 have met the standards of accreditation of the AVBC, which has an agreement with the RCVS regarding mutual recognition.20 Four of the seven veterinary schools in Australia have completed or are undergoing the process of accreditation with the American Veterinary Medical Association. A move to introduce a system of national recognition of veterinary registration by each State and Territory Veterinary Board was proposed by the Australian Veterinary Association in 1990, and will be first implemented in the State of Victoria in 2011. High cost of veterinary education Veterinary science has had a long history of being a high-cost course, and veterinary schools being expensive to set up, operate and maintain. In 1903 the fees for the course offered at the MVC (25 guineas per term, or 50 guineas per year) were more than twice the fees charged for the highest cost course offered at The University of Melbourne.1 Kendall claimed the cost of providing the course had to be supplemented by about £1,000 per year from income earned by his practice, in addition to fees charged to the students over the 20-year period the College existed.5,7 © 2011 The Author Australian Veterinary Journal © 2011 Australian Veterinary Association


The availability of funds constrained the development of facilities at the Sydney and Queensland veterinary schools during the 1950s, and for the re-establishment of the Melbourne BVSc course in the 1960s. The limited funds meant that quotas for enrolment were introduced in the 1960s. The fourth Australian veterinary school developed from 1975 at Murdoch University had a better financial basis for its establishment. The relatively small size of the undergraduate student load in veterinary science as compared with other disciplines taught at Australian universities, and the high cost of providing the course, meant that the veterinary schools had to develop entrepreneurial activities and partnerships with the practising profession to improve the quality of university education. The popularity of the course, with applications often exceeding places by a factor of 10 : 1, meant that the courses were unlikely to be disbanded, but veterinary schools have had to struggle with the financial restraints. Fees for undergraduate courses were charged by universities until 1974 when these were abolished by the Australian government. In 1989 a Higher Education Contribution Scheme was introduced whereby students paid the fee upfront for a discount or repaid a proportion of their educational costs once their taxable income exceeded a certain threshold.Veterinary science has always been in the high-cost Band 3. The amount repaid amounts to approximately 35% of the cost of providing the course. In 2010 the student contribution for veterinary science was A$8,859 per year of the course.

Issues that have helped shape veterinary education and the profession in Australia The battles for pre-eminence and prestige Since 1888, tensions have resulted in battles for pre-eminence and prestige between ‘veterinary surgeons’ and ‘veterinary scientists’, and the relative importance of disciplines taught at a veterinary school. There have been tensions between government-employed veterinarians and veterinarians in private practice. Many of these tensions have been resolved by adaptations to veterinary education, mainly in response to political forces and producing sufficient graduates to meet the market. The establishment of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in 1971 provided postgraduate recognition of superior professional expertise through an examination process for membership and fellowship.22 The first veterinary specialists in Australia were registered in 1988. Several were registered on the basis of the standard of practice they were conducting, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and a record of providing a speciality referral practice, rather than passing the © 2011 The Author Australian Veterinary Journal © 2011 Australian Veterinary Association

Fellowship examination of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists or similar examination in another country. The increasing importance of the role of the veterinary practitioner At the 1938 Annual General Meeting of the Australian Veterinary Association, a paper read by Lionel Bull (1889–1978, BVSc Melb 1912) presented a case for a Nationalised Veterinary Service that would have limited opportunities for the private practitioner.23 Geoff Fethers (1897–1988, BVSc Melb 1918), who spent his career in private practice, responded to the paper. Fethers told Bull, whom he knew well, that he would present reasons to oppose everything Bull had proposed, without losing his esteem. Fethers predicted the veterinary practitioner would play a most important role in the Australian community of the future. Herbert Seddon (1887–1964, BVSc Melb 1913) supported Fethers’ view, which was subsequently shown to be correct. But it took another 50 years, and not until the last decade of the 20th century before at least one veterinary surgeons Act had been replaced by a Veterinary Practice Act (Table 1) and the title of Registered Veterinary Surgeon had been replaced by Registered Veterinary Practitioner.


The University of Melbourne Act of 1909 provided funds to establish the School buildings and the costs of teaching for 10 years. This amounted to £150,000. Two further five-year grants were received to cover the costs of operating the School, teaching and conducting research.21 The School operated a veterinary hospital and only charged clients who had the means to pay for the costs of treatment. When the undergraduate course closed in 1928, the buildings were used for veterinary research and diagnostic activities, and the lecture theatre was used as a meeting place and venue for continuing education for the growing profession.

The courtesy title of ‘Doctor’ Debate was initiated in the 1960s by Jim Gannon (1930–2010), a private practitioner serving on the committee of the Victorian Division of the Australian Veterinary Association, that the profession should adopt the courtesy title of ‘Doctor’. This was adopted in Victoria in 1967 and subsequently in other States. The courtesy title was not accepted in University Veterinary Schools or recorded on academic transcripts. The awarding of the degrees of DVM by the Universities of Adelaide and Melbourne after 2013 will see this degree and title appear on academic transcripts (Table 2). The increasing participation of women in the profession The first woman educated at the MVC, Belle Bruce Reid, was registered in November 1906. Few women undertook veterinary science courses in Australia before 1960, but those that did made notable contributions.24 During the 1970s the number of women selected increased. In 1986 the gender balance of students selected was 50 : 50 and in 2008 was 80 : 20 female to male. In 2010, there are almost equal numbers of male and female registered veterinarians in some States of Australia. The ratio of the registered graduates in the profession will gradually reflect the ratio of those selected into courses. Belle Bruce Reid when interviewed in 1908 stated that women needed to be robust, fearless and fond of animals to be successful veterinarians.29 Salary and working conditions for new graduates The salaries paid to new graduates in government service during the 1950s,25 and in private practice during the 1970s, 80s, 90s and during the first decade of the 21st century has been advanced as a reason for much dissatisfaction with working conditions and a high turnover of staff.26 Industrial action taken by veterinary assistants in the 1990s resulted in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission cer-

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tifying the Veterinary Surgeons (Interim) Award 1998, the first Award to provide for terms and conditions of employment that are specific to veterinarians.27 Conclusion Veterinary education in Australia evolved from producing graduates to compete with registered veterinarians conducting a trade in the market place for the first five decades from 1888. The formal introduction of a quality assurance and accreditation system for veterinary schools in Australia from 1988 assisted established and new schools to produce graduates with highly developed knowledge from research. The technical skills at the time of graduation have been enhanced by experience and from improved access to continuing education that enables veterinarians to develop during their 40-year careers in private practice or in other areas of the profession. Veterinary science courses leading to a registrable qualification will be provided at veterinary schools at seven of the 39 universities in Australia in 2011 (Table 2). Two veterinary schools are in the State of Queensland, two in New South Wales and one in each of the States of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. In 1957 the Australian Veterinary Association initiated a long-range plan to ultimately have centres of veterinary learning in every state.28 After 50 years, this plan has been achieved for five of the eight jurisdictions in Australia (Table 1). Veterinary education has evolved with the development of the animal industries, the advances obtained from comparative studies of the anatomy, physiology and responses to injury in different animal species and from scientific research on agents causing disease, and the increasing importance of the role of companion animals in Australian society. The veterinary profession in Australia has the fortunate position of having seven veterinary schools with the potential to produce enough registrable veterinarians, equal in quality to the best in the world, to meet the market in the second decade of the 21st century. References 1. Pullar EM. Veterinary education in Victoria. Vic Vet Proc 1958;16:41–61. 2. World Veterinary Year 2011. http://www.vet2011.org/ Accessed October 2010. 3. Parsonson IM. The Australian ark: a history of domesticated animals in Australia (1788–1998). CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, 1998. 4. Pullar EM. Graham Mitchell FRCVS 1831c.–1888. Vic Vet Proc 1969;27:14–20.


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5. Robertson WAN. William Tyson Kendall and his life work. Vet Rec 1931;11(New Series):204–211. 6. The Brisbane Courier, Wednesday 26 January 1881; p. 5. 7. Albiston HA. Veterinary education in Victoria. Aust Vet J 1951;27: 253–257. 8. Sinclair B. Impressive winner Ready to Rip makes it two from two. The Courier Mail, October 10, 2010. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/ superracing/impressive-winner-ready-to-rip-makes-it-two-from-two/story-fn67r cgr-1225936718236. Accessed October 2010. 9. Stewart JD. History of veterinary education in New South Wales up to 1939. Aust Vet J 1951;27:246–249. 10. Seddon HR. Veterinary education in Queensland. Aust Vet J 1951;27:250– 252. 11. Caple IW. Continuing professional development for veterinarians. Aust Vet J 2005;83:200–202. 12. Faragher TJ. Ernest Arthur Kendall: his life in peace and war. Aust Vet J 2011;89:3–8. 13. European agriculture: Dr Kendall’s tour. Interesting observations. The Argus, Friday 11 November 1910; p. 7. 14. Veterinary Science: Veterinary Institute, Reception to Dr Gilruth. The Argus, Friday 4 April 1913; p. 5 15. Taylor J. Early military service in Victoria. Aust Vet History Soc Newsletter 1993;(6):1–6, (7) 10–17. 16. Parsonson IM. Vets at war: a history of the Australian Army Veterinary Corps (1909–1946). Army History Unit, Canberra, Australia, 2005. 17. University of Melbourne. Faculty of Veterinary Science. WWI Roll of Honour. http://www.vet.unimelb.edu.au/honour/index.html. Accessed November 2010. 18. Henry M. The status of Australian veterinary graduates in Great Britain. Aust Vet J 1949;25:15. 19. Pryor WJ, Egerton JR. The Australian Veterinary Schools Accreditation Committee. Aust Vet J 1990;78:N166–167. 20. Australasian Veterinary Boards Association. http://www.avbc.asn.au/. Accessed November 2010. 21. Caple IW. Centenary history of the Melbourne Veterinary School. Aust Vet History Soc Rec 2011;60:(In Press). 22. Woolcock B. History of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists. Aust Vet History Soc Rec 2007;49:39–44. 23. Bull LB. Possible developments in the organization of veterinary services: A national veterinary service in Australia. Aust Vet J 1938;14:222–226. 24. University of Melbourne. Faculty of Veterinary Science. Belle Bruce Reid Medal. http://www.vet.unimelb.edu.au/medal/index.html. Accessed November 2010. 25. Pullar EM. Historical note: veterinary services in the Department of Agriculture. Vic Vet Proc 1959;18:109–120. 26. Heath TJ. Recent veterinary graduates over the last five decades: recollections and perceptions. Aust Vet J 2005;83:682–687. 27. Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia. Veterinary Surgeons Interim Award 1998. http://www.apesma.asn.au/professions/ veterinarians/award/introduction.htm. Accessed October 2010. 28. Pullar EM. Veterinary education in Victoria. Part II: public action. Vic Vet Proc 1960;18:63–67. 29. ‘The Lady Vet’ by SHEBA. The Argus, Saturday 30 May 1908, page 8. http:// trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/10672867 (Accessed October 2010)

© 2011 The Author Australian Veterinary Journal © 2011 Australian Veterinary Association

A short history of veterinary education in Australia: the 120-year transition from education for a trade to education for a profession.

World Veterinary Year in 2011 celebrates the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the first modern veterinary school at Lyon in France. To put ve...
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